Even though partners don't physically produce the milk to feed their babies, there are plenty of ways they can get involved with the whole nursing process. In the beginning, many moms struggle with engorgement, difficult latch, and more. Luckily, there are lots of ways your partner can help you hand express that will make a generally awkward process a little bit easier, and help you work out some of the nursing-related kinks you may face in the beginning.
Hand expressing, according to La Leche League International (LLLI), is a very effective way for mothers to expel milk from their breasts without the help of a breast pump, or when they don't need to feed their baby. It can help relieve engorgement, increase your milk supply, or replace a breast pump once you get the hang of it. In the early months, while a mother's supply is still being established, hand expressing may end up being your best friend. And just like with any aspect of parenting, there's room for both parents to get involved.
Even though most breastfeeding-related material isn't geared towards them, the majority of new dads have an overwhelming desire to be involved in every area of their baby's life — just like the mother naturally is. And they have the right to be. Letting your partner help out in these small ways while you hand express can make things surprisingly simple and easy. Here are a few, small ways he can help when it's time for your to hand express.
1. Keep The Baby Distracted
Obviously, mom is going to be a bit preoccupied while hand expressing. From personal experience, I can tell you that trying to hand express (or pump, or do anything else, for that matter) and take care of your baby is basically impossible. Your partner can do a huge favor and watch the little one while you relieve your engorgement (according to LLLI, hand expressing is one of the best ways to handle engorgement,) or just tries to stockpile a bit of milk.
2. Help With Her Aim
Believe it or not, spraying liquid from your nipples in a controlled manner is a tricky skill to master. Holding whatever container you're is storing milk in so the hands are free to express can be a huge help, at least until you master your aim.
3. Get The Oxytocin Flowing, So To Speak
As non-sexual as breastfeeding is, it turns out that partners can play a great role in releasing the hormones that causes a mother's letdown reflex. According to Everyday Family, a quick massage or a few minutes of nipple stimulation, will encourage quicker letdown.
4. Get Her Some Water
There are multiple studies noting the correlation between lactation, suckling, oxytocin release and immediate thirst. Chances are that if you're nursing, pumping, or hand expressing, you're thirsty.
5. Grab Her A Snack
The same goes for snacks. And feeding them to her mid-expression will win you extra bonus points, trust me.